SC declares Contempt Of Court Act 2012 unconstitutional
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday in a short order declared the new law of contempt of court 2012 as unconstitutional and illegal and held that new law was an attempt to undermine authority of the judiciary.
The Supreme Court held in the short order that new law was in conflict with Article 63(1) (g) of the Constitution, according to which, if a person has been convicted/sentenced for ridiculing the judiciary, he will be disqualified to hold a public office.
The order moreover said that granting immunity to public office holders was in violation of the Constitution.
It stated that the government did not have the authority to formulate the rules for contempt of court, adding that, the law was an attempt to curtail the independence of the judiciary.
It also declared that the Contempt of Court Ordinance‚ 2003 shall be deemed to have revived with effect from 12th of July 2012 when the new Act came into force.
A 5-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and comprising Justice Shakirullah Jan, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, Justice Jawad S Khawaja and Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jilani heard various identical petitions challenging the Contempt of Court Act, 2012.
During the hearing, Attorney General Irfan Qadir presented his arguments before the bench.
Addressing the bench, Qadir said he had utmost respect for the court and that the court “should not be displeased”.
The Attorney General moreover said that he could not afford to divert “even an inch away” from the Constitution. Upon which, Justice Jawad S Khawaja said: “You end up moving two to three inches away from the Constitution”.
“No, I have not moved away from the Constitution to even a centimeter,” Qadir said.
Moreover, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain said the new law failed to mention several terms pertaining to contempt of court.
To which, the Attorney General said that if the new law was viewed in mathematical terms it would get complicated.
Justice Khilji Arif Hussain said the terms of ridicule; scandalisation and contempt of court were not present in many sections of the law.
Responding to which, Qadir said: “It does not make a difference and the essence of the contempt remains in the new law.”
The Chief Justice said that a law could not broaden a concept addressed in the Constitution, adding that, the new law even included magistrates in the definition of a judge.
The Attorney General stated that he had worked with a number of judges and that he had been told that a judge was a judge where ever he/she is.